Sudan: Sweet Corn - Essential Component of Traditional Sudanese Dishes

Sweet corn (locally known as "Aish-Arreef") is quickly becoming one of the most important cereal crops of Sudan. It is traditionally grown as human and animal feed. But recently it has become subject to a great popular demand to the extent that it now represents an essential component of many traditional Sudanese dishes such as "Bakomba".

Bakomba is a delicious Sudanese traditional dish made of boiled sweet corn mixed with milk, custard, raisins, coconut powder and sugar, and is served cold.

Sweet corn is also used in preparing the famous white "Aabri" drink, especially made as a thirst nourishing drink during Ramadan (fasting month) and in summer season.

Grinded and dried sweet corn is used as yeast paste to prepare the local dish of "Aseeda" that is particularly served at weddings and other festivity occasions in Sudan. Special grinding mills have been established in Omdurman City to produce this yeast paste. Some tribes at certain parts of Sudan mix this sweet corn paste with yoghurt and peanut cream and use it as nourishing complementary food for small children and old people.

Starch sweet corn is also mixed with green peas as protein-rich pie filling instead of minced meat. Sweet corn starch is also mixed with wheat to make local bread.

Sweet corn is grown in central and eastern parts of Sudan, the Blue Nile and White Nile states, as well as in Kordufan, and Khartoum states.

It is worth noting that there is now a great demand on sweet corn in regional and international markets.

In addition to their value as animal feed, sweet corn stems are sometimes bound together and used as house walls and fences at certain rural areas of Sudan. They are also used to produce bio-energy fuel.

To explore the economic value of sweet corn, Sudanow talked to agro-economic expert, Dr. Al-Fatih Mohammed Saeed, who owns a number of sweet corn schemes where he confirmed Sudan's great potential as international sweet corn producer. He also explained that sweet corn may be cultivated at different seasons reiterating the fact that rain-fed areas represent fertile cultivation land for sweet corn.

Dr. Al-Fatih further added that sweet corn is now being cultivated as self-sufficient crop, but plans are under way to cultivate sweet corn crop on much larger scale for export purposes, especially in light of global market demand on sweet corn to fill in the gap in wheat production.

Dr. Al-Fatih referred to a Turkish company that heavily invests in large-scale cultivation of sweet corn for export purpose in Sudan, a move that will subsidize Sudan's GDP, secure self-sufficiency of the crop and increase the country's hard currency reserves.

Sweet corn is of high nutritional value and may be consumed as boiled, or baked on coal. It is definitely a safer and healthier alternative of the fast junk foods that are being sold by street vendors in many cities and town of Sudan. It is noticed that many school students now prefer to eat baked or boiled sweet corn as sold by street vendors.

Sweet corn is packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. It contains many variants of Vitamin B including B1, B5 and B12, and therefore it is very effective in curing anemia symptoms and enhancing the nerve system.

It helps cure colon cancer and is also a recommended diet for diabetic people.

It is also relatively low in protein and fat and helps reduce harmful cholesterol percentage in the blood. Due to its impressive nutrient profile, most people can benefit from eating whole corn and popcorn as part of a balanced diet. It's also a naturally gluten-free food and can be eaten by those who are advised to avoid gluten.

Sweet corn is useful for a human body in many ways, as it ensures idyllic functioning of several internal systems such as cell generation system. It is especially useful during pregnancy period as it contains folic acid.

Being rich in antioxidants, sweet corn therefore is useful in preventing the aging process. It helps cure bladder infections and acts as soothing tranquilizer. It is also very effective in stopping nasal hemorrhage.

On the cosmetic level, regular body massage with corn oil achieves considerable enhancement in skin texture. Being a host of essential minerals and vitamins, regular consumption of sweet corn also ensures radiant skin and good vision. Also, owing to its high vitamin E content, a paste created with sweet corn can work wonders to remove facial acne scars.

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